Motion Control/​Automation

Explore the latest developments in motion control and automation. Discover innovative advances from NASA and major research labs in robotics, autonomous vehicles, industrial automation, PID controller applications, motor drives and power transmissions.

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Robot

Rethink Robotics (Boston, MA) introduced Sawyer, a smart collaborative robot designed to execute machine tending, circuit board testing, and other precise tasks. The robot modifies its behavior to respond to changing and unexpected conditions on the plant floor. The robot weighs 19 kg (42 lbs.), and features 7 degrees of...

Products : Software
Manufacturing Connectivity

Sandvik Coromant (Fair Lawn, NJ) introduced the CoroPlus™ platform for connecting manufacturing tools and software. The platform gives users access to product and application data through connected software and hardware from pre- to post-machining. Sensor-equipped tools let users adjust, control, and monitor...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Part Positioners

Yaskawa Motoman (Dayton, OH) expanded its line of RM2 ferris wheel-style robotic part positioners. The positioners have two servo-driven trunnion/station axes on opposite sides of a central “sweep” axis. One station is positioned in front of one to four welding robots, while the other station is outside the robot envelope...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Optical Encoders

MICROMO (Clearwater, FL) announced the FAULHABER high-precision IER3 and IERS3 optical encoders. Both encoders deliver two-channel quadrature signals and an additional index signal. They can position a FAULHABER micro DC motor or brushless DC servomotor with a typical accuracy of 0.1° to 0.3°. The encoders combine the LED,...

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Are you optimistic about AI possibilities?

This week's Question: Today's featured INSIDER story demonstrated a new achievement in artificial intelligence. According to a recently released Stanford University report developed by a standing group of AI scientists, the ability for robots to be self-determined and concerned with their own longevity...

News : Medical
AI Algorithm 'Learns' Beyond its Training

A new machine-learning training method developed at the University of Toronto enables neural networks to learn directly from human-defined rules. The achievement supports new possibilities for artificial intelligence in medical diagnostics and self-driving cars.

News : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Drones and Biobots Map Disaster Areas

North Carolina State University researchers will use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and insect cyborgs, or biobots, to map large, unfamiliar locations.

News : Propulsion
Rocket Motor Design Could Boost Small Satellite Missions

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a rocket motor concept that could be used to power CubeSat low-cost satellites. The Los Alamos team recently tested a six-motor CubeSat-compatible propulsion array with tremendous success.

News : Aerospace
Morphing Wing Could Enable More Efficient Manufacturing and Flight

A new morphing wing architecture could greatly simplify the manufacturing process and reduce fuel consumption of aircraft by improving the wing’s aerodynamics, as well as improving its agility. The wing consists of a system of tiny, lightweight subunits that could be assembled...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Mapping Marine Snow on Sea Floor

City-sized maps of terrain and life on the sea floor have revealed that drifts of "marine snow" on submarine hillsides act as a source of food to fuel a higher biomass of marine life than on flatter plains. This finding comes from research by scientists at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) that may improve...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Lunar Regolith Simulant Sample Collection Mechanism for Remote Operation in a Thermal Vacuum Chamber

The Sample Capture Mechanism (SCM) is a remotely actuated, spring-driven mechanism designed to remotely capture and seal a 15-mL sample in less than 1 second. It was used to capture a 10-g sample of simulated regolith dispensed from a drill in a...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Sonar Inspection Robot System

NASA’s Johnson Space Center innovators have designed a Robotic Inspection System that is capable of surveying deep sea structures such as oil platform storage cells/tanks and pipelines in order to determine the volume of material remaining inside, interrogate structure integrity, and display real-time video and...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robonaut 2: Industrial Opportunities

Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors (GM) and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2’s nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in many...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Vessel Sealing Device for Robotic Devices

Invasive surgical procedures are essential for addressing various medical conditions. When possible, minimally invasive procedures are preferred, but these technologies are often limited in scope and complexity. These limitations are due in part to mobility restrictions from the use of rigid tools in...

Articles : Green Design & Manufacturing
2016 Create the Future Design Contest

The 2016 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, Mouser Electronics, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in seven categories: Aerospace & Defense, Automotive/Transportation, Consumer Products, Electronics,...

Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
2016 Create the Future Design Contest: Machinery/Automation/Robotics Category Winner

SHAPE MEMORY ALLOY BASED SAFETY LATCH

Nicholas W. Pinto, Suresh Gopalakrishnan, Chandra S. Namuduri, Nancy L. Johnson, and Mark Vann General Motors, Warren, MI

General Motors has invented a device that indicates when an unsafe level of energy...

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Will artificial intelligence do more good than bad for humanity?

This week's Question: World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently warned that the creation of powerful artificial intelligence will be “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity.” Hawking noted the risks of creating superintelligence with a will of its...

News : Motion Control
Spherical Motor Eliminates Robot’s Mechanical Drive System

The SIMbot robot features an elegant motor with just one moving part: the ball. The only other active moving part of the robot is the body itself. A spherical induction motor (SIM) eliminates the mechanical drive system and can move the ball in any direction using only electronic...

News : Motion Control
New Steel Enables Better Electric Motors

In order to make plug-in electric vehicles as affordable and convenient as internal-combustion cars, their motors must be smaller, lighter, more powerful, and more cost-effective. A research team is working to develop motors with the stator core (a non-rotating, magnetic part) manufactured with thin...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
‘Robomussels’ Monitor Climate Change

Northeastern University scientist Brian Helmuth and other researchers have developed "robomussels" that monitor climate change. The tiny devices have miniature built-in sensor that track temperatures inside the mussel beds.

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
3D-Printed Robots Feature Shock-Absorbing Skins

A “programmable viscoelastic material” (PVM) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) allows users to program every single part of a 3D-printed object, including exact levels of stiffness and elasticity.

Articles : Motion Control
Precision Robotics and Automation: Hexapods Advance Production Processes

Hexapods — six-legged parallel-kinematic machines — are quickly gaining ground in a broad range of industrial automation applications after “learning” how to directly communicate with PLC or CNC controllers via Fieldbus interfaces. As far as the semiconductor and...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Motor Controller Provides Custom Electronic Control Solution

A Fortune 200 company needed a turnkey, DC voltage, agency-compliant electronic control solution capable of providing motion control with memory position capabilities and auto run/sense features for a multi-motor application involving four motors. Particularly important to the design...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Electro-Hydraulic Motion Controller

Delta Computer Systems (Battle Ground, WA) has announced the RMC200 closed-loop electro-hydraulic motion controller that has the capacity to handle closed-loop control of up to 32 motion axes. The controller can synchronize the motion of multiple axes, enabling the construction of machines with scalable...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Grippers

Airpot® Corp. (Norwalk, CT) announced GramForce™ Accurate Force Pneumatic grippers that generate no measurable friction and provide a gentle grip for delicate operations. They operate at pressures from 0.02 MPa to 0.7 MPa, and offer holding pressures as low as 0.25 N (0.056 pounds) and up to 8.6 N (1.9 pounds). With synchronous and...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Servo Drives

Advanced Motion Controls® (Camarillo, CA) announced AxCent™ servo drives for centralized motion control schemes. The Models AB15A100, AB25A100, and AB20A200 are panel-mount servo drives that operate with brushless permanent magnet motors as well as brushed motors and inductive loads. The drives are controlled with ±10V analog...

Products : Motion Control
Hollow Shaft Encoder

Kübler (Charlotte, NC) released the Sendix F5883 Motor-Line optical hollow shaft encoder with a mounting depth of 43 mm. The encoder is based on the Sendix platform, and features Intelligent-Scan Technology . It is insensitive to magnetic fields, offers EMC characteristics, and supports interfaces such as SSI, BiSS,...

Products : Motion Control
AC Drive

Danfoss Drives (Milwaukee, WI) introduced the VACON 20 AC drive that features built-in PLC functionality. It is available in all common voltages (110- 600V), and a power range up to 18.5 kW/25 HP. The built-in RS-485 interface offers a serial control interface for the drive. With optional modules, the drive can be connected to almost...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Brush DC Mini Motors

Portescap (West Chester, PA) introduced the 16DCP Athlonix™ high-power-density brush DC mini motors. Available in a 16-mm diameter, the 16DCP motors feature a coreless design with an optimized self-supporting coil and magnetic circuit. The motors are available in two variations — precious metal commutation and graphite...

Products : Motion Control
Positioning Controllers

maxon motor (Fall River, MA) offers the EPOS4 controller module with detachable pin headers and two different power ratings. With a connector board, the modules can be combined into a ready-to-install solution. The position controllers are suitable for control of brushed DC motors and brushless BLDC motors (EC motors)...